Seth Rich Update: TV Ad With Russian Subtitles Questions DNC Staffer’s Murder

Updated | A television spot asking viewers for information about the 2016 death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich will launch soon in Washington, D.C. As theories circulate around the unsolved death, the spot will include Russian subtitles.

“There’s reason to believe that there could be a Russian connection, so what we did was we wanted to tap into everything,” says a spokesman for Jack Burkman, a Republican lobbyist who funded the ad. “If in fact there is a Russian connection—and people haven’t been able to rule out it’s still a possibility—we thought it would be a good idea to reach out to them.”

Related: The FBI is not probing Seth Rich’s murder, despite claims to contrary

Rich, 27, was fatally shot in July 2016 while walking home late at night in Washington. Police have said they believe the incident was a botched robbery. But because Rich worked for the Democratic National Committee, and because WikiLeaks published thousands of emails from the committee less two weeks after his death, people have speculated that Rich provided the materials to WikiLeaks and that his death was perhaps an attempt to prevent him from doing so or to punish him for it. Since then, Fox News’s Sean Hannity, the Russian embassy in London, the Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who the U.S. Department of Justice has accused of illegal activity, and others have pushed forward the theory. Rich’s parents have called for such claims to stop.

Burkman, the lobbyist behind the TV spot, announced last September that he would offer $100,000 to anyone who solves the killing. He also launched the Profiling Project, a team working to solve the case. “The objective here really is just to get closure for this family,” Burkman told Newsweek in 2016. He added, “You certainly can’t rule out any theories, or at least you shouldn’t.” In June, the Profiling Project released an 83-page report claiming that the person who murdered Rich was probably “a hired killer or serial murderer.” A spokesman for the Rich family disputed the findings.

The 30-second spot will have its debut on Tuesday in Washington and appear later in other markets, according to the spokesman for Burkman. Newsweek obtained an early copy of the ad, and it shows Burkman speaking into the camera about the case and imploring viewers to visit the website Who Killed Seth. The website has information for sending tips to Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department. The Russian subtitles appear throughout the ad. Burkman is holding a press conference on Monday in Washington to discuss the ad.

During its initial run, the spot is ostensibly targeting a small population; there are only around 1,900 Russian speakers living in Washington, and just 400 or so speak English less than “very well,” according to Census estimates published in 2015.

In a statement, Brad Bauman, a spokesman for the Rich family, said, “The family won’t comment at this time about an ad they had not been made aware of and have not have an opportunity to view.” He added, “The family sincerely hopes that despite reports that the content of the ad contains Russian language, that the ad is respectful of our wishes to not continue to push unfounded conspiracy theories regarding Seth. We hope that should this ad generate any leads, that they immediately be forwarded to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.”

09_22_Seth_Rich_TV_Russian Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered in 2016, is the subject of a new TV ad, with Russian subtitles. According to a news report, Trump is interested in the death of the young Democratic operative. Family of Seth Rich

The Rich case is also the subject of at least one ongoing lawsuit. In May, Rod Wheeler, who was described as a private investigator looking into Rich’s death, told a Fox affiliate that he knew of evidence connecting Rich to WikiLeaks. Fox News later published an expanded report, claiming that a “federal investigator” had confirmed what Wheeler said.

But Newsweek and other outlets reported that the FBI was not investigating the case, and Wheeler walked back his comments. In August, he sued Fox News, its parent company and two individuals involved in the matter, claiming the network coordinated with the White House to use him and create a fake story. Fox has asked for the case to be dismissed.

This article was updated on September 25 to include the TV spot after it was made publicly available.

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